The beauty of simplicity: Ano Natsu de Matteru

I guess I was raised to value the complexity of intelligence and the intelligence of complexity that it reflects in my passions and wishes in life. I have been quite vocal regarding undeserved praise towards pedestrian novels such as the Twilight saga, and I admit that my favorite novels are those that are either ignored or willfully unread by the hoi polloi. I know that what I read are classics, although they are currently rather ignored. Among my most favorite novels is William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom, which jarringly shifts through time and person to tell a story that coalesces upon itself at its end. In the same vein is the symbolist masterpiece, Petersburg, by Andrei Bely.

I think the same could be said with regard to my choice in movies. I don’t seek to be idiosyncratic, but I prefer The Killing to any other movies by Stanley Kubrick, and sincerely wished that Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy replaced an undeserving Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the recent Academy Award nominations for Best Picture. I love watching films that so beautifully invoke the tip-of-the iceberg image by Freud: there is an elephantine mass gurgling and burbling beneath the surface that is up to the viewer to decipher, enjoy, and decode for himself, with so little to see on the surface itself. I was never fond of the easy way out in the things I loved.

Because this show is that awesome

I think that I have been consistent, even in relatively lesser media such as anime. The Tatami Galaxy was a masterpiece of prognostication, multiple viewpoints and intertwining realities, but it took rather astute observers to appreciate its nuances. Steins;Gate was also masterful because of its ability to connect and twist the story to become esemplastic, and it was reminiscent, at least for me, of The Sound and the Fury.

While I prefer the complex and intellectual examples in my favorite media, there are exceptions to all of them, and the most recent one is the series Ano Natsu de Matteru.

The series is not complex: it does not require multiple re-watches to understand the story, but like the simple and yet beautiful Mice and Men novella by Steinbeck, it simply and incandescently gets the job done. It is a bildungsroman of a certain Kaito, who, like most of us back when we were in high school, sought his own identity in the context of his society. While the story is essentially a rehash, the characters that interact with one another make it one of the better, if not the best examples of anime, because it has characters that are essentially human but also essentially good.

While most people would probably be unimpressed with the flow of the plot, I simply found the empathetic characters to be among the best-written among the series I’ve watched. We all have to admit that it was Lennie and George who made Of Mice and Men, after all. Anything can have a barebones plot, and as long as the characters that pepper that story are rife with life and color, it would be at the very least good. I think Ano Natsu approximates that.

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8 Responses to “The beauty of simplicity: Ano Natsu de Matteru”

  1. ayame Says:

    Seeing you praising this show makes me wonder if I indeed missed something great by not watching it. Its moe design made me frown and so I haven’t given it a chance.

    hoi polloi – omg, ancient greek in english? I haven’t met this in a text again. (I’m Greek).

  2. Michael Says:

    I assure you, that while there are bits of fanservice, it’s every bit a good romance anime, especially when compared to a lot of recent releases.

  3. Akira Says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog, and wow, I’m loving the writing.

    I recently wrote a post on the characters of Ano Natsu de Matteru and how they embody the irrationality and urgency of youth. I think that we can all empathise with the characters in NatsuMachi because, well, we were all young once. We all fell in love, and in our quest for happiness, we’ve all done stupid things. NatsuMachi glorifies the stupid brashness of youth, especially in its side characters.

    The one objection I do have with NatsuMachi is Lemon. She feels too much like a plot device, a deus ex machina, used to goad the characters into action. Perhaps everything would feel a little more organic, a little less forced, if the characters were forced to confront each other on their own terms.

  4. Michael Says:

    Thanks, akira! I’ll read your post as soon as I’ll generate enough free time.

    On the contrary, I only fell in love recently because I kept myself so guarded that I wasn’t prepared for my first failure. I was too smart to be brash, and I guess it bit me back when I realized I didn’t know how to properly court a lady. I like the show, however, because it reminds me that I have to face my problems in love and life eventually and not just shield myself off from them as I did years and years ago.

    I do understand your qualms regarding Lemon, but I think she’s just that astute observer who happens to trigger incidents. And there are some people like that in our lives, whether we like that or not. They are most usually our friends who have some insight that they keep from us that we may understand and learn by ourselves what we truly feel. Still, it was a point well made. Thank you for the comment! 🙂

  5. Squid Says:

    I’m loving the writing! I was just looking up pictures of Rinon from Ano Natsu and I came across your blog. It’s so funny that you mentioned Of Mice and Men because we just read it in class and I think it’s my favorite book! After going a while without seeing a good anime, I decided to watch some new stuff, and Ano Natsu was it. I really do agree with what you’re saying, and I’m really excited for each new episode. It’s cool to see someone who agrees! 🙂 I think you have a new fan~

    As for the fanservice, it’s pretty hard to find a show without it these days haha. I know what you mean though, ayame. I have kinda just gotten used to it. However, like Michael said, it’s worth seeing and despite the bits of fanservice, it’s still a wonderful anime.

  6. rds Says:

    I don’t know. everyone around is all over Ano Natsu.. – like it’s sooo good love story… May be it’s just me but I think this anime is very bad as a love story.

    Ok, Takatsuki – Kanna – Mio story is, indeed, very good love story.

    But the Kaito – Ichika story is very bad. Very. First it has totally wrong pace. This is a first love we are taking about, and yet, Kaito went thru “met girl – got feelings – realised that he’s in love – confessed” in pretty much a single day – single episode.

    That is psychologically wrong. Doesn’t happen, can’t happen. That’s why, unlike Takatsuki-tachi, he doesn’t seem to be a human – he’s just a character that is moved around by the will of the anime script authors – I cannot empathize with him.

    Same for Ichika – it’s difficult to put in words, but to me her character is same – psychologically incorrect – her behavior and what is given as reasons for it – are incoherent, out of sync and generally unbelievable. The same person can’t be as lame as she is on Earth, while also being an adventurous space traveler flying across the galaxy on her own.

    People don’t behave that way, as far as I know. (well, I know, she is an alien …).

  7. Michael Says:

    Squid:

    Thank you for the compliments. It’s really a pretty little thing. 🙂

    rds:

    It didn’t really occur within merely a day. But I respect your opinions.

  8. Elsa Says:

    Different people is equals to different types of perception.
    As long as you enjoy what you are reading or watching there is nothing wrong about it.
    Thanks for posting!

    Elsa
    My blog: pose d’un grillage clôture 

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